A Popular History of The Great War/Volume 1/Page 42

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A Popular History of The Great War   ·   Volume 1: The First Phase: 1914   ·   Chapter 2: The Fateful Thirteen Days
CHAPTER 2
The Fateful Thirteen Days


As already stated, the archduke Francis Ferdinand and his morganatic wife, the duchess of Hohenberg, were murdered at Serajevo on June 28, but it was almost a month before the attention of Europe was turned to this crime. The crisis which it provoked really began on July 23 when the Austrian government, having learned that it could count upon support from Berlin, sent a peremptory note to Serbia. This lengthy document contained a number of requests intended partly as reparations for the crime at Serajevo and partly as safeguards against further outrages. The 23rd was a Thursday, and a reply was requested within 48 hours, i.e. before Saturday, the 25th, was out.

The Serbian ministers took counsel with Russia, and, having done so, returned their answer. It was thoroughly conciliatory. All the Austrian demands save two were conceded, and with sound reason the Serbian government asserted that to accept these two would be to infringe the sovereignty of the country and to violate its constitution. The two clauses to which exception was taken were the one in which Serbia was asked "to accept the collaboration in Serbia of representatives of the Austro-Hungarian government in the repression of the subversive movement directed against the territorial integrity of the monarchy," and the other in which Austria-Hungary demanded that delegates from that country should take part in the judicial proceedings against the accessories to the plot at Serajevo. On these two points Serbia suggested reference to the international court at The Hague. Short of abject submission, the Serbian government could hardly have gone further, but her enemies were in no mood for discussion or delay. At ten o'clock on the evening of Saturday, the 25th, the Austrian minister in Belgrade, having stated that the Serbian reply was unacceptable, asked for his passports and left the city. The formal declaration of war followed in three days.

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